Welcome to our new recurring column, “Tales from the field.” Sourced from various pros all over the country, these short stories recount what agents are seeing on the front lines and what others can learn from them. This week, broker-owner Laurie Weston Davis shines light on a badly handled dual agency situation.

Welcome to our new recurring column, “Tales from the field.” Sourced from various pros all over the country, these short stories recount what agents are seeing on the front lines and what others can learn from them. 

So I have a little case study going

Someone in my North Carolina market, whom I know well, looked at an open house in their neighborhood for fun, but then started thinking about it seriously after they viewed it. The listing agent said the “seller will take a contingent offer” and advised them to not offer full price. This was red flag No. 1. And I was there, so I know she said it.

Then the listing agent said, “I can represent you,” but did not explain dual agency — red flag No. 2. Then said she could list their house for a reduced commission. They proceeded to write an offer — after I explained all of the potential issues in this scenario. (It was in a market outside of my MLS, and at this point, I had no desire to hop on this crazy train.)

I did try to help them figure out what they should offer based on information I could access — before they signed anything since their soon-to-be agent could not advise them as a dual agent. The agent sent documents for them to sign and left out a very important one: the “Contingent Sale Addendum” (red flag No. 3). Luckily they asked me to look at what was sent before they signed.

She later sent the addendum filled out incorrectly (red flag No. 4). After I read it and pointed out the errors, it was corrected, so they then signed all the documents, and the offer was made. The buyers decided that since they needed to sell quickly to meet the contingency, they would see if Zillow would make an Instant Offer.

Now I was really interested. I explained that they may end up paying more and getting a lower price for their home than they would on the open market. They still thought it was worth seeing what the offer would be; they might be willing to give up a little for the convenience.

Zillow came back and said it wouldn’t make an offer because comparables had not sold quickly enough. Not sure what Zillow was looking at because the same floor plan had sold several times in single-digit days on market. Zillow said it would refer to a local agent who had several buyers who would be interested in their property (that’s an old line).

An agent reaches out and said they would love to help them find a house. WTF? They want a buyer for their house. And now they are getting inundated with emails and texts from lenders. Meanwhile, they get a counteroffer on the house they are interested in — no contingency, close in 35 days.

So I guess the agent was wrong about the seller taking a contingent offer. What a cluster%$#@! And I’ve run out of flags. I can see why people get frustrated and want a better way. I will be following how this all turns out. I can’t help but look — it’s kind of like a car wreck on the side of the road.

What are the takeaways here?

  1. The consumer should give informed consent before entering into dual agency. Sending the form is not enough.
  2. If you have someone sending documents to clients on your behalf, always review and verify they are correct before they are sent.
  3. Don’t get commission breath. Short-term gain can cost you in the long run.

Do you have a tale to tell? Hit us up!

Laurie Weston Davis is the CEO, broker and owner of Better Homes and Gardens Lifestyle Property Partners in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Connect with her on Facebook.

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